UK defendant jailed in the US
from various sources – March 2016
submitted by – Danielle Roberts
Any news updates on this case are listed at the foot of this item
66 year old British Christopher Tappin, a retired businessman, was jailed by a court in the US after agreeing to a plea deal to one count of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defence articles. His plea deal meant that he would plead guilty to the one count of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defence articles with the American prosecutors in which they agreed to not oppose his request to serve part of his sentence in Britain.
The plea-bargain was agreed in El Paso, Texas. The deal meant that Christopher would be jailed for 33 months and was fined $11, 357.14 which equates to £7, 044. Christopher, who was once the former of a golf union in Kent, was originally facing 35 years in jail for the offence.
Despite the fact that Christopher pleaded guilty and entered a plea deal, he originally denied the charges claiming he was a victim of an FBI sting operation. The business pleaded guilty to selling batteries for Iranian surface to air missiles.
Christopher’s UK solicitor, Karen Todner, said 98% of people who enter the US justice system agree a plea deal.
She also went on to say; “The odds are so heavily stacked against a defendant who chooses to plead not guilty and is found guilty that the vast majority of people facing trial in the US opt to take a plea agreement.”
Christopher was ordered to start his sentence by reporting to the Allenwood Prison in Pennsylvania by 8 March 2012. The issues in this revolve around the extradition that he had encountered. He was arrested by the UK police in 2010 but was actually indicted in the US in 2007 but was unaware of this.
The extradition treaty that the Labour government passed after the terror attacks in September 2001 meant that before an American citizen is extradited to the UK there has to be ‘probable cause’ whereas there only has to be ‘reasonable suspicion’ for a British citizen to be sent for trial in the US.
Christopher tried to fight the extradition for 5 years but failed. For the following two months he spent two months in federal prison in New Mexico. He was then bailed in Houston where he lived with his attorney for a while before getting his own apartment. Here, he was allowed to use the gym and golf course whilst he was on bail.
He then served time in a Pennsylvania prison before being transferred to a New York prison. Christopher was then returned to the UK where he finished serving the last remaining 14 months at a UK prison.
During Christopher’s time at the correctional facility in New York, his solicitor said that the prison was ‘teeming with rats’ and it was ‘run by gangs’. She also stated that he “seemed broken from his experience”.
Now, back home and released from prison after completing the remaining part of his sentence in the UK. Christopher Tappin is said to be fighting the 2003 extradition legislation.
Christopher Tappin back in UK to complete jail sentence
29 September 2013